Suzie Hardy, a stylist for Ryan Seacrest from 2007 until 2013, has described years’ worth of alleged sexual harassment and abuse by the ubiquitous television host in a new interview with Variety. Hardy accuses Seacrest of numerous aggressive and unwanted sexual advances during her employment, including one incident where she says he grabbed her crotch and another when he struck her butt with enough force to leave a mark.
Dressing Seacrest was part of Hardy’s job description as a stylist, but she says Seacrest often behaved inappropriately while wearing only underwear. On one occasion, Hardy says, an underwear-clad Seacrest pushed her onto a hotel bed, climbed on top of her, and rubbed his erection against her. At other times, she says, he hugged her while wearing only underwear, and one occasion apparently teared up:
Hardy said in an interview that early in her tenure, Seacrest would often give her gifts that felt excessive, such as a $1,000 spa gift certificate. On another occasion, she said Seacrest, sitting in a director’s chair in his underwear, told Hardy, who was alone with him in his dressing room, “I just don’t think you’re attracted to me,” to which Hardy said she responded, “I’m attracted to my paycheck.” She described Seacrest as near tearful during the exchange.
Hardy says she was reluctant to speak up or to quit because, as a single mother, she relied on the steady income and flexible hours to care for her daughter. In 2013, Hardy says she was approached by human resources executives asking about Seacrest, and “told them everything.” After that, she says, she was let go from E! News. She’s since left the entertainment industry.
Seacrest himself made the existence of unspecified accusations known in November, when he announced that E! parent company NBCUniversal had hired outside counsel to conduct an investigation. “Recently, someone that worked as a wardrobe stylist for me nearly a decade ago at E! News, came forward with a complaint suggesting I behaved inappropriately toward her,” Seacrest said in a statement at the time. “I dispute these reckless allegations and I plan to cooperate with any corporate inquiries that may result.” On February 1, E! announced that its outside counsel had “found insufficient evidence” to substantiate the then-undisclosed claims.
Seacrest currently co-hosts the ABC morning talk show Live with Kelly and Ryan alongside Kelly Ripa. He’s set to return as the host of American Idol, the show that made him a household name in the ’00s, when the rebooted singing competition premieres next month. Seacrest has not yet responded to Hardy’s public statements. Read Variety‘s full report here.